Interior Northwest to face rainy Memorial Day weekend while fire threat grips Southwest

By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
May 27, 2018, 6:26:38 AM EDT

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It will be a tale of two forecasts in the western United States into Monday as storms dampen the Interior Northwest but heat and drought persist in the Southwest.

"The same storm that brought showers and locally gusty thunderstorms from northern California to Idaho on Friday will continue to track eastward to the northern Rockies into Memorial Day," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

Showers and thunderstorms will erupt daily along the path of the storm with the afternoon and evening hours being most active. The storminess will remain west of the I-5 corridor, allowing Seattle and Portland, Oregon, to be dry for the holiday weekend.

NW Sunday May 26

Anyone headed out into the back country to go hiking, camping and climbing for the holiday weekend will need to be wary of lightning and hail in any afternoon storms. Exposed, high-elevation areas are especially dangerous areas to be caught in a thunderstorm.

"On Memorial Day, any hikers in places like Yellowstone National Park or the Bitterroot National Forest or even farther south into the Wasatch Range should watch for rapidly rising clouds and have a plan for seeking shelter from lightning should a thunderstorm get close," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda said.

"Cooler air will also accompany the storm eastward," Pydynowski said. "In Billings, Montana, the high of 81 F on Saturday will be replaced by highs near 65 for Memorial Day."

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"Some of the thunderstorms will turn severe each afternoon into Memorial Day across the High Plains as the advancing cooler air clashes with the heat set to build over the Plains," she added.

Farther south, a much different weather pattern will persist. Extreme drought conditions gripping the Southwest are expected to persist unabated, with no rainfall expected in southern Colorado, southern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and southwestern Texas.

SW Sunday May 26

"Gusty winds set to spread from west to east across the Desert Southwest during the holiday weekend will once again elevate the fire danger," Pydynowski said.

"Celebrations in this area should be especially careful with any open barbecues or fireworks, and residents should be careful to know and heed any local restrictions on water or fireworks," said Sojda.

Memorial Day 5.27 AM

High temperatures on Memorial Day are expected to rise back to the century mark in Palm Springs, California, and Phoenix.

Air flowing in from the cooler Pacific Ocean will keep temperatures more in check in Los Angeles and San Diego.

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